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Shake-up for Reggae Boyz to resolve scoring problems

BIG GAMES: Winfried Schäfer

JAMAICA COACH Winfried Schäfer, who is banished from the bench on Friday for his one-match ban, has called up two raw strikers to take his tally of forwards to seven to tackle back-to-back World Cup qualifiers.

Junior Flemmings and Dever Orgill have been called up by the Jamaica head coach, who needs to dramatically improve his side's ability to score goals following recent feeble outings, where they scraped past central America minnows Nicaragua and were totally outclassed in last month's friendly in South Korea.

Tivoli Gardens's Flemmings bristles with confidence as a wide attacking player, which resulted in trials at Manchester City last year and in August with the New York Red Bulls.

Flemmings finished as the leading scorer in the Jamaican High School league and captained a Jamaica College side that collected three major schoolboy titles.

Orgill, who plies his trade in Finland with IFK Mariehamn, made his senior national debut five years ago in Kingston against Trinidad & Tobago but has won just a single cap since. The 25-year-old is another talent who Schäfer has confidence in.

As well as the stalwarts of Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Simon Dawkins (Derby County), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Alan Ottey (Montego Bay United), Schäfer has pinned his hopes on 31-year-old hitman Claydon Donaldson to add some much-needed firepower.

With Deshorn Brown one of five players no longer in the original squad — Shaun Cummings, Rosario 'Rossi' Harriott, Lance Laing, Ladale Richie and Cordell Simpson are all omitted for one reason or another — then the inclusion of Flemmings and Orgill could instill overdue confidence upfront.

And the unforgiving fans who visit Kingston's National Football Stadium on November 13 will be expecting a positive result when defensive-minded Panama visit.

Schäfer's ban for the first of the crucial World Cup Qualifiers group games, after he was found guilty of unsporting behaviour against a match official in September's tie in Nicaragua, means that the German won't get booed on the bench should the Boyz fire blanks.

Bradford-born Donaldson will be eager to play some part in silencing any critics in the crowd and try to emulate Marlon King, another Jamaica hot-shot who played for Birmingham City.

And Schäfer is expected to opt for a three-pronged attacking line-up, although it is near impossible to see any of the players being preferred to the talented Giles Barnes or the tricky Darren Mattocks.

Donaldson is in fine form in the Championship with Birmingham City this term, and played for England at non-league level in 2005. Yet the 31-year-old pledged his international allegiance to Jamaica in April, and was granted international clearance in July to represent the Caribbean island through his grandfather's heritage.

Schäfer is adamant about scoring goals and blasted: “Attack is the best form of defence for us, we don’t want to just stay behind the ball and defend.”

Despite Schäfer's cries for goals, Jamaica enter this month's World Cup Qualifying group games having notched just one triumph in four games and appear to be stuck in a confidence crisis. Hence the debut call-up for Donaldson and to bring both Flemmings and Orgill to add some steel following woeful recent displays by the Boyz to create goalscoring opportunities.

Yet Panama are also in a bit of a crisis but their media believe suggest that their disappointment of their 2014 World Cup qualifying will push them on to the finals in Russia.

Their past World Cup campaign ended in tears, just 90 seconds away from progressing only to be defeated during stoppage time by the United States to narrowly miss out on advancing to the play-offs against New Zealand.

In July's Gold Cup competition they suffered just two defeats, an extra-time reversal to eventual champions Mexico and were ousted of the tournament on penalties against their nemesis, USA.

Since their disappointment at the Gold Cup in Chile, Los Canaleros ('the Canal Men') have stuttered during four friendlies and scored just twice. Defeats at the hands of Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico have signalled that the team world ranked no65 is not in as strong a position as they envisaged although some experimental squad changes were made.
Under manager Hernan Darlo Gomez, a former Colombia international, the last time that Panama won during 90 minutes was against Costa Rica in March's friendly at Panama City.

So with neither side brimming with confidence nor the ability to score goals the match in Kingston points to a dull draw, but the joy of football – and indeed sport – is to expect the unexpected. Home advantage for the Boyz should tilt the tie towards Schäfer's men, and with seven strikers named in the squad to tackle Panama and Haiti the future looks bright.

JAMAICA SQUAD:
Goalkeepers – Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Duwayne Kerr (Sarpsborg, Norway), Ryan Thompson (Unattached)
Defenders – Michael Hector (Chelsea), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Wes Morgan (Leicester City)
Midfielders – Rodolph Austin (Unattached), Andre Clennon (Vaasan VPS, Finland), Kevaughn Frater (Harbour View), Garath McCleary (Reading), Jobi McNuff (Leyton Orient), Demar Phillips (Real Salt Lake), Lee Williamson (Blackburn Rovers), Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas)
Forwards – Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Simon Dawkins (Derby County), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City), Junior Flemmings (Tivoli Gardens), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Dever Orgill (IFK Mariehamn, Finland), Alan Ottey (Montego Bay United)

Qualifying 4th Round (round robin)
Jamaica's home matches – Panama (13 November), Costa Rica (25 March 2016), Haiti (6 September 2016)
Jamaica's away matches – Haiti (17 November), Costa Rica (29 March 2016), Panama (2 September 2016)
Group A: Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico
Group B: Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama
Group C: Guatemala, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, USA

Final Qualifying Round (round robin)
Top two teams from each group will play in a six-team mini-league, with the top three automatically qualifying and the fourth-placed team moving into an inter-Continental play-off.

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